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Open Source: (Former) OS Projects Try to Fight Back by Changing Licensing Terms

By Dick Weisinger

Open Source projects are complaining that large cloud vendors like Amazon AWS are unfairly profiting from their intellectual property.

Redis Labs has announced changes to their licensing and described their motives, saying that “some cloud providers have repeatedly taken advantage of successful opensource projects, without significant contributions to their communities. They repackage software that was not developed by them into competitive, proprietary service offerings and use their business leverage to reap substantial revenues from these open source projects.”

In a similar way, MongoDB recently tried to change the terms of their license that would force cloud providers that in turn resell or repackage their software as cloud services to pay a license fee. But the terms of the new licensing were rejected by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) as an unacceptable Open Source license.

Not everyone agrees that AWS and cloud giants are the culprits. Matt Assay, for example, head of developer ecosystem at Adobe, said that “it has become fashionable to call out the cloud vendors, and particularly AWS, as parasitic destroyers of open source value. What real-world contributor data actually tells us, however, is that this view of the clouds is completely wrong, at least at the macro level. Google and Microsoft are orders of magnitude bigger contributors to open source communities than any other company. Even AWS, which has perhaps correctly been criticized as not ‘doing more’, is one of the world’s top-10 largest contributors, and has scaled up its contributions considerably in the last year. It would seem that more cloud tends to equate with more open source. Perhaps, then, the clouds are not the enemies of open source, but the best allies.”

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